Are you curious about new South African wine styles and regions to try? What do most people misunderstand about Pinotage wine? Is it really necessary to spit when doing a wine tasting?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with international wine and spirit judge Dr. Winnie Bowman.
You can find the wines we discussed here.
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- How can you distinguish between competition medal values and avoid misleading wine labels?
- What was it like for Winnie to teach hotel students who were reluctant to spit during wine tasting?
- Which aspects of the South African wine industry would probably surprise you?
- How did certain wine regions in South Africa transform their reputations and become highly sought-after?
- Where did some of the misconceptions around Pinotage originate and what are the facts?
- What does Winnie love about Creation Glenn’s Chardonnay and what can you expect when tasting?
- Why should South Africa be on your must-visit list of wine regions?
- I loved listening to Winnie talk about new South African wine styles and regions to try as well as the fact that the country gets so many sunshine hours for ripening and deepening flavour.
- I appreciated her background on the Pinotage grape and that it’s not the robust wine that many people assume it is, and can be quite elegant.
- Her story about the fellow judge not spitting was delightful.
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South Africa has got so many sunshine hours. Our wines are just like tasting the sun. - Dr. Winnie Bowman Click to tweet
People always thought Pinotage was quite a robust grape, and it actually isn’t. - Dr. Winnie Bowman Click to tweet
I don’t enjoy very manipulated wines. I like the purity of the grape to be in my glass and in my mouth. - Dr. Winnie Bowman Click to tweet
About Dr. Winnie Bowman
Dr. Winnie Bowman is a physiotherapist, biomedical scientist and holds a PhD in Education, specializing in Didactics. She is an international wine and spirit judge as well as a Cape Master. Winnie writes about wine, teaches, presents corporate tastings and appears regularly on radio and television wine shows.
- Connect with Dr. Winnie Bowman
- Wines We Tasted:
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 244: Should You Buy Wines Based on Competition Medals? Dr. Winnie Bowman, Cape Wine Master, Has Thoughts
- Diary of a Book Launch: An Insider Peek from Idea to Publication
- Wine Witch on Fire Free Companion Guide for Book Clubs
- My Books:
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 84: Are Celebrity Athlete Wines Great or Gimmicks? With Dr. Antonia Mantonakis
- My new class The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner And How To Fix Them Forever
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Thirsty for more?
- Sign up for my free online wine video class where I’ll walk you through The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner (and how to fix them forever!)
- You’ll find my books here, including Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines and Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass.
- The new audio edition of Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass is now available on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com and other country-specific Amazon sites; iTunes.ca, iTunes.com and other country-specific iTunes sites; Audible.ca and Audible.com.
Dr. Winnie Bowman (00:00):
South Africa has got so many sunshine hours. Our wines, it’s like tasting the sun. South Africa has really developed over the last few years, particularly since the end of apartheid. Farmers could now experiment and put their own stamp on their wines. A good example of this is an area outside of Cape Town where they were always labeled as bulk wine. And these were beautiful vineyards, but it was not a fashionable area until the next generation came around. Today, people specifically seek out those wines. It’s just a success story that would not have happened if these kids did not decide to actually take the bull by the horns and do something exciting.
Natalie MacLean (01:04):
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine? Do you love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places and amusingly awkward social situations? Well, that’s the blend here on the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie MacLean, and each week I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here. Now pass me that bottle please and let’s get started.
Welcome to episode 245. Are you curious about New South African wine styles and regions to try? What do most people misunderstand about Pinotage wine? And is it really necessary to spit when doing a wine tasting? In today’s episode, you’ll hear the stories and tips that answer those questions and more with Part Two of my chat with Dr. Winnie Bowman, an international wine and spirit judge as well as Cape Wine Master. You don’t have to have listened to the first episode from last week, but if you missed it, I hope you’ll go back to it after you listen to this one.
In my new book, Wine Witch on Fire: Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Defamation, and Drinking Too Much, I write about needing to change my relationship with wine. I had to get away from the high of alcohol and return to the sensuality of wine, to move from the anesthetic to the aesthetic. I wanted my experience to centre on who I was with rather than solely what was in my glass. More importantly, I had a young son who was watching my every move. Did I want him to develop the family disease of alcoholism. How do you feel about your relationship with wine? Let me know.
Here’s a review from Beth Costa in Sonoma. “I spent a 100 degree day on the river nearby home and read this book cover to cover in one sitting. Despite facing unwarranted criticism and hurtful comments on social media, Natalie emerges as a resilient leader. Her relatable wine expertise has made her a standout figure in the industry. In this book, she fearlessly shares her journey, pouring her heart out and emerging stronger than ever. Natalie is a true inspiration and continues to be one of my wine heroes.” Thank you, Beth. “If more stories like this continue to be shared, maybe there will be change if not in my lifetime, maybe in our kids.” Thanks, Beth.
If you’ve read the book, I’d love to hear from you at [email protected]. If you haven’t got your copy yet and would like to support it and this podcast, please order it from any online book retailer no matter where you live. Every little bit helps spread this message. I’ll put a link in the show notes to all the retailers worldwide at NatalieMacLean.com/245. Okay, on with the show.
Are there certain things that, as consumers, we should be wary of when it comes to competitions? I mean, for the average consumer, they’re not going to look into the practices of every competition. How do we know we’re not just looking at medals that were awarded. Where as long as you pay the fee, you’re going home with a gold or something, even a medal of some sort. How do we distinguish that?
Dr. Winnie Bowman (04:44):
That is a very big problem because there are competitions like that. And also very often I’ve also seen that the bronze medal sticker is very similar to the gold medal sticker. So it’s very easy in a shop, when you’re taking something off the shelf, to actually think that you’ve picked a gold medal winner, for example. But actually it’s a bronze. Which it’s there and thereabouts. I mean, the wine got a medal but there’s a very big difference between a bronze medal and a gold medal. And what I’ve also seen Natalie, which is a little bit cheeky, is wine labels with a medal sticker on it. And if you look closely, it’ll say things like made in the vineyard or nature’s own.
Natalie MacLean (05:30):
It looks like they won an award.
Dr. Winnie Bowman (05:32):
So if you look at the label, look that it is actually a sticker from. And of course I’m saying recognized competition, but nowadays there’s so many competitions that you can’t always be sure. And of course not all the competitions have the same medal value. For example at the IWC, Decanter, and IWSC, those kind of competitions and I think – I’m not sure about the American competitions off the top of my head now – but 95 is a gold medal. Whereas in a different competition, 87 out of a hundred can be a gold medal. And there’s a very big difference in the quality assessment of 87 to 95.
Natalie MacLean (06:13):
Dr. Winnie Bowman (06:14):
And it’s very difficult for the consumer. I really think it’s very difficult because there are also little competitions, fly by night competitions, that give the biggest stickers. And how do you know? One is to be very careful when you’re choosing a bottle of wine. And I think once you do your homework first, but of course the problem is once you’re in the shop and you need a bottle of wine for tonight, you’re going to buy a bottle of wine and then you’re either going to go back to what you know. But for me, it’s always interesting to try something different and just expand your tasting palette.
Natalie MacLean (06:49):
Sure. So to the extent those medals give you confidence to try something new, that’s a really good thing. And the only other caveat I would imagine that people need to keep in mind is the very top, top, top, top wines, your Chateau Margaux, and maybe not just that tier, but some tiers under probably don’t enter competitions because they sell everything. They don’t need medals on their labels or scores for that matter. They’re not sending their wines to be reviewed by most critics, if any.
Dr. Winnie Bowman (07:16):
Correct. So those wines you’ll never see in a competition. But I of course have my own view about that. And that is also that they might not like what they get.
Natalie MacLean (07:25):
Right. That’s true. They have everything to lose if they’re the gold standard. Why would you risk that?
Dr. Winnie Bowman (07:30):
Why would you put yourself out there when you’ve already got the accolades for being like, say, a first growth?
Natalie MacLean (07:36):
Dr. Winnie Bowman (07:37):
They don’t enter competitions and that makes it quite difficult. And especially if you’re thinking of the Bordeaux first to fifth growth. I mean those are all very fancy wines, but you’ll never see them in a competition, so you’ll never see them with a sticker on.
Dr. Winne Bowman
And it’s quite an expensive exercise just to buy them to try them. And you might get an odd bottle. And of course the other thing with those wines is it’s just like the slightest problem with them. For example, a slight corkyness that is very difficult to detect. All the consumer will taste is not what the hype is about. But in the meantime, had that bottle been served in a restaurant with a sommelier. The sommelier would’ve picked up, one would hope, that there was something wrong with a bottle.
Dr. Winnie Bowman
So it is a tough business to buy wine.
Natalie MacLean (08:30):
Yes. But we’re both here to help, Winnie, so fortunately.
Dr. Winnie Bowman (08:34):
Yes. Come to my house, Natalie, and all of you. Come to me.
Natalie MacLean (08:38):
Exactly, exactly. That is an interesting point you raise about cork because there’s a whole spectrum of corkiness from just diminishing the wine’s natural flavours so that you think, as you said, there’s not much there, to real full on musky wet cardboard. So just as a side note because sometimes you won’t even realize it’s faulted, as you said, you’ll just think there’s not much to this wine. I don’t know why it’s such a prestigious wine. Yeah, exactly. So one of your other passions is teaching wine classes. Tell me about the time when you were teaching a group of hotel students.
Dr. Winnie Bowman (09:12):
Yeah, that was quite an interesting experience because it was the first time that it wasn’t in a wine classroom, like at the Cape Wine Academy where I teach quite a lot. So the hotel students, as part of their course, has to obviously be the beverage side of the business. And I was asked to do these courses and they set all my lectures at four o’clock in the afternoon and it was out in the suburbs. And I thought, no, man. I don’t like teaching that late. I’m like a morning person. I want to be up and do it. So I found the head lecturer and I said, can we please just move this to eight o’clock in the morning? I said, because I’ve got to go fetch my child from school and it’s quite difficult for me that time of the day. And she said, oh, no, no, no, no, no, you can’t because it’s wine. And I said, I know it’s wine but what’s the problem? And she says, oh no, they don’t spit.
Natalie MacLean (10:07):
Dr. Winnie Bowman (10:07):
I said, no. I said, no, there’s no such thing as don’t spit. And she said, no, no. They all say they can’t spit. And I said, what do you mean you can’t spit? So I said, okay I’ll come the first time at four o’clock. And I said, believe you me, when I leave there, they’ll all be spitting because wine tasting is not wine drinking. There’s a very, very big difference between the two. Anyway, I arrived there and marched in and we were doing the theory, everything. Fine. And I said, right now we are going to taste. And I said, get out your spittoons. And they all just said, oh no, we don’t need spittoons. And I said, no, no, no, no, no. You do need spittoons because I’m teaching you how to taste wine and you need a spittoon. Nope. So the first one said, well, actually we are just going to get nauseous and vomit. I said, okay,
Natalie MacLean (10:58):
It’s a more painful way of spitting.
Dr. Winnie Bowman (10:59):
I said, that’s what you do. I said, but just remember the second time you spit, you can spit into that vomit spittoon.
Natalie MacLean (11:09):
[laughter] Oh my God.
Dr. Winnie Bowman (11:10):
Anyway, it happened with the first wine. Of course, two three of them started vomiting immediately.
Natalie MacLean (11:15):
They were making themselves vomit just after a taste of wine
Dr. Winnie Bowman (11:18):
Because they can’t spit. They dunno how to spit.
Natalie MacLean (11:21):
That just seems bizarre.
Dr. Winnie Bowman (11:23):
Natalie MacLean (11:24):
Dr. Winnie Bowman (11:25):
Bizarre. So okay, go off, go and clean those platoons. Come back. We didn’t do number two. Snd one tried it. Oh, actually it does work. You can spit. So from that day onwards, my next lectures were all at eight o’clock in the morning. wine notwithstanding
Natalie MacLean (11:45):
That’ll teach them to spit. Ruined for the rest of the day if they don’t. Wow.
Dr. Winnie Bowman (11:51):
I know, I know.
Natalie MacLean (11:51):
Alright, so let’s get on more into South African wine. So what things about South African wine would surprise us? I mean we hear from a lot of regions, including South Africa and quite justifiably, that quality has improved, there’s a greater diversity of styles, there’s more producers. But can you either dig deeper into some of those areas or is there something else that would surprise us these days about South African wine?
Dr. Winnie Bowman (12:16):
Well, South Africa is such a, I mean it’s made for wine. The Western Cape, where I come from, is obviously where most of the wine is grown. And we have some areas that are now expanding up the coast. And also inland, we have an area called Bredasdorp, which is very continental, and that’s where they grow all the Port kind of varieties and make Port wines.
Natalie MacLean (12:38):
And what do you mean by continental in terms of the climate there?
Dr. Winnie Bowman (12:41):
Very hot during the summer. Very dry, very little rain and very cold and even frost in the winter. So they can only really plant the things that can withstand those temperatures. And it happened to be varieties from the Port area in Portugal. So that is what’s mostly grown there. But in Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and of course Constantia where wine started in South Africa. I mean we have the most wonderful summers. And of course we have climate variation and particularly nowadays, but South Africa has got so many sunshine hours. Our wines are just it’s like tasting the sun. I mean, I can’t get enough of them. And for example, when I travel. I mean we are very fortunate, we have a little toe hole in London, and whenever I have a dinner party there, I only serve South African wine. I mean, I’ve put them in my suitcase. I buy them in London and so on.
But South Africa has really developed over the last few years, particularly since the end of apartheid, because obviously before that we were in isolation. We weren’t able to export our wines. Plus in those days, the KWV, which is a abbreviation for a Dutch name, used to take all the grapes, buy all the grapes at very cheap prices from the farmers and make their own wines. And they were the only ones that were actually allowed to export wine until way in the late eighties. So when that was sort of stopped, farmers could now experiment and put their own stamp on their wines. And a very, very good example of this is an area about 80, 90 kilometers outside of Cape Town where they were always labeled as bulk wine and bulk and cheap wine. So these were beautiful vineyards, but because it was not a fashionable area, all the wines were either sold to bigger producers as bulk wine. In other words, they either blended it into their own wines or put it in boxes or whatever.
It was always very cheap until the next generation came around. And I remember, in fact, I actually know the guy who started this whole thing because his aunt was a friend of mine and we also spent lots of time on the farm and he was like a tiny little baby crawling around there. When he’d studied wine, he went to his father and he said, I can’t do this until I retire. He says, it’s so soul destroying because it’s the same formula every year and every week and every month. He says I can’t live like this, thinking this is what I’m going to do until I either hand over to one of my own children or die, or just lose the will to live with this boring existence. And he said, I want to make something different. And his father said, oh, well this is not the area for that. And he said, just let me be anyway. And he made a completely different expression of Chenin Blanc and they entered it for the Platter Wine Guide, which is our very good publication here in South Africa of all wines South Africa. And the wine got the highest accolade of five stars. And that was unheard of because often before some of those wines did actually get accolades, but under somebody else’s label from a more fashionable area.
Natalie MacLean (16:11):
Wow. And what was the winery’s name?
Dr. Winnie Bowman (16:12):
It’s all from the Breedekloff and the wine’s called Opstal, the Afrikaans word for homestead. And he was like the fifth, sixth generation chap to farm there. And with his starting changing things in his own area, there were obviously quite a few other younger people who were also following in their father’s footsteps and said, Hey, we also want to do something different. And now today it’s a fashionable area. People specifically seek out those wines. And it’s just a success story that would not have happened if these kids did not decide to actually take the bull by the horns and do something exciting.
Natalie MacLean (16:54):
And what was the region called?
Dr. Winnie Bowman (16:55):
Natalie MacLean (16:56):
Dr. Winnie Bowman (16:57):
But similarly, Natalie, the Swartland region which is now so famous, and it was by a few guys who just said, we are going to make these wines in these rugged conditions and we are going to make beautiful wines that are respected worldwide. And now you’ve got somebody like a Eben Sadie who is well known all over the world. Not everybody can drink his wines because he doesn’t make so much. But wherever he goes, people want to taste these wines. And that was a completely unfashionable area. And the other thing is we started with documenting all the old vines in South Africa. And we’ve got a lady called Rosa Kruger who’s a viticulturist, and she went around identifying all the old vineyards because very often those old vineyards, the farmer didn’t make wine and just sold the grapes off to somebody who would just put it in a big blend.
And now we’ve got people specifically seeking those tiny little pockets of very old vines. And in fact, there’s a whole new industry in South Africa of, for example. Pruning the old vines is much more difficult than pruning a newer vine that was actually set up to be sort of properly planted and trained from the very beginning. These old vines are mostly bush vines, which are just, they’re not trainers or anything, they’re just like a bush of grapes, so to speak. So that’s a whole new area in South Africa where we are doing specialized training for pruning and stuff. And in fact, Rosa has been approached by people in Spain and Italy to come over there and show them how we treat our old vines because they’re also getting into the thing of older vines.
And of course that’s not only a sort of way of labeling wine because in South Africa now there’s a label for each old vine registered. wine from an old vineyard, which the vineyard age on the bottle. So you can see all of that. So now there’s a whole new thing in sustainability about old vines because in South Africa apparently, which I only learned this last week, most vines only last 18 years before they pulled out. And it takes five years or so to actually get grapes from a vine to make wine that we all want to drink. So it means that you’ve actually really got 13 years of your vine. And we all know it’s quite expensive to reestablish a new vineyard for which you then have to wait another five years before you can harvest those grapes.
Natalie MacLean (19:48):
Were they replanting them so quickly, so to speak, because they just wanted the vigour of new vines? I mean we all know that old vines produce smaller fruit and much more complex interesting wines, but they don’t produce a lot. So I guess they were seeing the tradeoff? It was worth just keeping ripping up and replanting?
Dr. Winnie Bowman (20:05):
Ripping them up and planting new ones. So it was very interesting because I went to talk by Paul Sauer, and I don’t know if you have Kanonkop wines in Canada, but that’s sort of our number one I would say winery in South Africa. And he was saying that they had to relook their whole system and he said we are already making wine as well as we can. We already have our vineyards in as good a condition as they can. So what else can we do in order to make our wines better? And the things that they came up with were all things to do with sustainability. Introducing the natural fauna flora into the vineyard. For example, they now are going to put cattle on the farm because the cattle will be number one…
Natalie MacLean (20:55):
Dr. Winnie Bowman (20:56):
Be an automatic.
Natalie MacLean (20:58):
Oh, is it for the fertilizer? Or because they’ll be turning up the soil?
Dr. Winnie Bowman (21:02):
Like turning up the soil in between the vineyards, that kind of thing. And planting, they spent lots of consultation hours with botanists to actually establish what used to grow in the area so that they could plant those around the vineyards so that you are reestablishing the stuff that was already there in the very beginning that flourished
Dr. Winnie Bowman
Which makes it much cheaper in a way because the stuff is there already and it protects the vineyards and is very sustainable. Because I mean, whether we like it or not, we need this earth to continue for generations to come and we need to do things that will make that happen. I’m hoping that wine’s not the thing that’s going to be falling by the wayside.
Dr. Winnie Bowman
So we’re doing all that we can here in South Africa.
Natalie MacLean (21:53):
Absolutely. No, that is great. I mean lots of interesting changes there. Now I wanted to touch on Pinotage, which I believe is a blend of Pinot Noir and Cinsault if I’ve got that correct, if I remember my notes. It’s often considered South Africa’s flagship red wine though you do many different red wines very well. Why does or has Pinotage had such a bad rap? And some people would even say it smells like rubber, some of them. So why was that? What’s changed? And what would surprise us when it comes to Pinotage?
Dr. Winnie Bowman (22:27):
It’s very interesting actually because Pinotage is actually a wonderful grape. But I was quite upset when I read all those things about the burnt rubber and so on. So I started looking into what actually caused it, because my initial reaction was, oh my God, they don’t how to make the wine properly. But of course it turned out it wasn’t actually that. It was the creosote, which is the preservation substance that was applied to the poles of the vineyard, that with heat and time they were like phenols. In other words, little pieces of flying matter attaching itself to the grapes and the skins. And that was where the tar came from, which is actually. And the reason they put the creosote at the bottom of the poles is to preserve the wood. But it wasn’t actually only with Pinotage. It just happened to be that’s where people picked it up.
It’s also been picked up in other parts of the world with things like plums and olives and so on. Nobody uses it anymore. You’ll see most vineyards of now actually probably got metal poles and stuff like that. But anyway, these phenols attached themselves to the skin of the grape and it was not actually the wine making process. And of course it also attracted things like smoke if there was a wildfire in the area and stuff like that. Because this creosote actually is a distilled product from tar in the first place.
But I think Pinotage is quite a difficult, as a friend of mine would say another kind of an animal. It’s not strange as in that it doesn’t taste like any other grapes. The grapes are actually beautiful. I think what has happened over the years is that the Pinotage Association has spent many, many millions of rands and man-hours to actually really nail down what you should and shouldn’t be doing. Like with many other grape varieties: where it should be planted, how it should be handled. Because people always thought it was quite a robust grape. And it actually isn’t because I mean half of its parent is Pinot Noir.
Natalie MacLean (24:33):
Pinot noir, the finicky grape.
Dr. Winnie Bowman (24:34):
And Cinsault, Hermitage, it’s also a lighter style of grape. So today we actually have very, very good Pinotages. And it’s funny because I did a Pinotage tasting, we have a Pinotage top 10 competition in South Africa, and I’ve got a friend who’s got a South African restaurant in London. And I said to her, come on let’s do a tasting there of Pinotage. And she said, I don’t know about my clients. And I said, look you get them here. She’s quite forceful, my friend. And she phoned them up but said if you ever want a table here again, you’ll book for this Pinotage tasting. Anyway, she did get about, I think there were about 30 or 35 people. It was an eyeopener because people came with preconceived ideas of what they were going to be tasting. And they were all saying oh my word I don’t want to taste burnt rubber. I don’t want to taste burnt rubber. Because the perception was that burnt rubber was a characteristic of Pinotage, which of course it isn’t. And they were very surprised by the voluptuousness and the complexity of good Pinotage. And I know there’s Pinotage grown in Canada. Did you know that?
Natalie MacLean (25:47):
I’ve heard yes. Little bits of it.
Dr. Winnie Bowman (25:49):
Yeah. And in places like New Zealand, which is also a cooler kind of a climate. And of course with Pinot Noir being part of the parentage, I mean we get different styles of Pinotage. You can get the more floral sort of lighter style of Pinotage and then also more to the heavier style, depending of course also on the oaking of it. A lot of people, there was a chap here that started using oak that was quite toasted and it tasted almost like coffee.
Natalie MacLean (26:22):
Oh yes, there were some coffee ones. Yes. There was even one called Café. It was marketed like coffee.
Dr. Winnie Bowman (26:30):
There are a couple that are called something in the line of coffee. And I’m not so nuts about those because to me you’re not celebrating the grape. You’re celebrating the method of making. And I don’t like that. I actually like the purity of the grape to be in my glass and in my mouth because that’s what I enjoy.
Dr. Winne Bowman
I don’t enjoy very manipulated wines with either too much oak or too much skin contact. I mean I like for example, orange wines, but I don’t like those ones that taste like fermenting apple juice or oxidizing apple juice. I don’t like that. I like to taste. If it’s Chenin, I want to taste Chenin. If it’s Pinotage, I want to taste Pinotage. And that’s of course, I mean that’s me. But I just think that that’s the way one can enjoy wines and very many different wines because then you don’t have to taste the same thing all the time. I mean if you want to taste oak, that’s okay with me. But you’re not tasting the grapes really, then.
Natalie MacLean (27:30):
Dr. Winnie Bowman (27:30):
You’re only drinking the oak, so to speak.
Natalie MacLean (27:32):
Well, in speaking of tasting, I don’t want to run out of time before we taste two of the wines that you have today. I want to hear about them and I want to hear how you taste them because you do this professionally so frequently. So what are the two wines that you have with you today, Winnie?
Dr. Winnie Bowman (27:47):
Well, it was very difficult, Natalie, because I like all wines. But today I chose a chardonnay. I don’t know if you can read that.
Natalie MacLean (27:57):
And we’ll put the link in the show notes as well. So which one is it?
Dr. Winnie Bowman (28:01):
So this is Creation.
Natalie MacLean (28:03):
Dr. Winnie Bowman (28:04):
It’s from the Hemei-en-Aarde area, which is an area which had wine for quite a long time, but there was only one winery called Hamilton Russell. I don’t if you
Natalie MacLean (28:12):
I’ve visited that one. Yeah, beautiful winery. Anthony and his wife.
Dr. Winnie Bowman (28:17):
Anthony, yes. And for a very long time, he was the only one in the valley. And then when people started planting plant, plant, and now of course it’s such a vibrant valley with extremely high quality wines. So this is Creation, which is right at the top of it’s called Hemei-en-Aarde Ridge. And this is from, incidentally, I told you I was in Spain last week and I was there for the announcement of the world’s best vineyards and Creation actually came forth in the world. Which is quite a feat. So this is called Glenn Chardonnay, and Glenn is the son and he’s the fourth generation wine maker at Creation. Well, he’s not really at Creation yet. He’s the finished his wine studies last year and his father said you better go and find yourself some jobs all over the world because you ain’t coming back here until you know how to make wine.
Natalie MacLean (29:13):
Get the experience.
Dr. Winnie Bowman (29:14):
Exactly, yes. So this Chardonnay and they have there a single vineyard, which they call the Art of Chardonnay, which is the top wine. And this is a selection of barrels from that top wine. So they make very few, I don’t know a thousand bottles maybe of this, but it’s absolutely fabulous. And you’ll see of even…
Natalie MacLean (29:39):
Lovely golden colour.
Dr. Winnie Bowman (29:41):
… in the Chardonnay glass. But you can see beautiful, beautiful golden colour. You might not be able to see it on the screen well but there’s still a lovely tinge. This is a Glenn Chardonnay 2022, so very young. And the Hemei-en-Aarde is a very cool climate, so one doesn’t expect those overt flavours jumping out of the glass. But I’ve had it open now for quite a while. In fact, I haven’t been able to wait for you to ask me to drink it, Natalie, because…
That’s okay [laughter].
Dr. Winnie Bowman
It’s been sitting under my nose.
Natalie MacLean (30:12):
Dr. Winnie Bowman (30:14):
This has got, I mean such beautiful honeysuckle and a lightly roasted almond and baked apple, lemon meringue, all of those wonderful flavours. And they just keep on coming towards me from here next to me.
Natalie MacLean (30:32):
And what might you pair that with, Winnie, that wine?
Dr. Winnie Bowman (30:36):
For me Roast chicken, grilled mushrooms, touch of the wine in the pot, touch of cream. I’ll be in Heaven.
Natalie MacLean (30:46):
Dr. Winnie Bowman (30:48):
So. this is really good. And this is a ’22, but I think the first time the boy made it was about three, four years ago, so they don’t have a long track record of it. The Art is like the parent wine of this one. And that’s about. The farm incidentally is actually celebrating its 21st birthday this year. So it was all wonderful. We were there yesterday celebrating the 21st and of course the fourth in the world for the Best Vineyards. And they are an amazing family because they not only in their restaurant use everything that’s just around them, their neighbors that grow vegetables or animals or whatever, water, anything, olive oil. They’ve got their own beehives and they’ve been instrumental in setting up this roject, which is schooling for children of all the workers on the farms, meals in the afternoon, transport, sport, et cetera, et cetera. But this is really delicious because it’s got a wonderful depth of flavour. And I mean, I can still taste it in my mouth now, having spoken for so all the time.
Natalie MacLean (31:56):
Long finish. Yeah.
Dr. Winnie Bowman (31:58):
It’s got a lovely long finish and it’s just a beautiful wine that you can drink on its own or with food. And that’s what I like because I really like to be able to, especially when I’m cooking, I like to taste some of the wine that’s going into the food and what I’m going to drink and what I’m going to drink with the meal. So I really, really enjoy this.
Natalie MacLean (32:20):
Dr. Winnie Bowman (32:21):
And then, Natalie!
Natalie MacLean (32:21):
Yes! What’s next?
Dr. Winnie Bowman (32:23):
Especially for you, Natalie.
Natalie MacLean (32:25):
Dr. Winnie Bowman (32:26):
This is Beyerskloof Diesel, and it’s a Pinotage. I could not not bring a Pinotage.
Natalie MacLean (32:33):
Of course. Wonderful.
Dr. Winnie Bowman (32:37):
This is a guy, his name is Beyers. He is. they call Professor Perold, who developed Pinotage, the father of Pinotage. But Beyers is the king of Pinotage. He loves Pinotage. And in fact, he actually put Pinotage probably on the map for South Africa internationally when in 1991 he won the Best Red Wine at the International Wine and Spirit Competition. And it was the Robert Mondavi trophy that he won. And in his speech he actually said if Pinotage was a woman, she’d be married to me today.
Natalie MacLean (33:17):
That’s confidence for you [laughter].
Dr. Winnie Bowman (33:21):
I know. I know. He loves Pinotage and he’s a big proponent of the Pinotage Association and promoting quality. And we are certainly doing that more and more in this country. More and more people are actually seeking it out and drinking it, because it wasn’t only internationally that Pinotage had a bad wrap. It also had a bad wrap in South Africa because people would say, why would I drink Pinotage if I can have a beautiful Cab or a beautiful Syrah or Pinot Noir from a cooler area like the Hemei-en-Aarde. And I mean it’s a beautiful wine. And the big thing about Pinotage for me is that it’s friendly, it’s food friendly, and it’s just friendly to sit there and drink with your friends. And it should put a smile on your face when you’re tasting a good Pinotage
Natalie MacLean (34:07):
I imagine it’s not tannic when you say it’s friendly, it’s easy, smooth drinking?
Dr. Winnie Bowman (34:12):
Yeah, yeah. Because they have actually learned over the years how to manage the oak treatment of Pinotage in the cellar. I mean it’s not only South Africa I suppose that used a lot of oak. I mean, we also remember the big Australian Chardonnays as well as the American wines that were just so sweet and heavy and all oak.
Dr. Winnie Bowman
Oak to me should be a sprinkling of spice and not be the wine.
Natalie MacLean (34:41):
Dr. Winnie Bowman (34:42):
As I said earlier on, I like to taste the grape.
Natalie MacLean (34:44):
Absolutely. And so what does that one taste? I’ll let you sip. What do you get from that?
Dr. Winnie Bowman (34:50):
Plums and bramble and some lovely dried herbs. And it’s almost got a liqueur like quality on the nose. But again, also very full and complex.
Natalie MacLean (35:06):
And once you taste that one. Is it full-bodied or is it medium?
Dr. Winnie Bowman (35:12):
It’s a full-bodied wine. It goes into all new oak. However, if you’ve got good, healthy ripe grapes, it can take the hundred percent oak because it’s got tannins, it’s got a little nip at the end, but it’s not bothering you on the palate in terms of overpowering the flavours of the grapes. And that’s what I like about this wine. I mean, it is their flagship wine.
Natalie MacLean (35:41):
Dr. Winnie Bowman (35:41):
They make a hell of a lot of it, but it is something to seek out if you ever get the opportunity.
Natalie MacLean (35:47):
Absolutely. And what would you pair with it?
Dr. Winnie Bowman (35:49):
If you could meet Beyers…
Natalie MacLean (35:51):
Yes. Both he and his wife, Pinotage.
Dr. Winnie Bowman (35:56):
His wife, Mrs. Pinot. [laughter]
Natalie MacLean (35:58):
Mrs. Pinotage. Yes. And what would you pair with that wine, Winnie?
Dr. Winnie Bowman (36:02):
This to me, a beautiful roast leg of lamb, some olives, because it’s also got a salty saline finish. So with olives and even tomato. It’s a very versatile wine. And although it’s quite a big wine, it doesn’t feel and that’s why it’ll go with all of those tomato and olive and lovely rare roast lamb leg or whatever.
Natalie MacLean (36:25):
Wow. Well, you’ve made me hungry and thirsty. You’ve done your job [laughter]. My goodness and I cannot believe how fast the time has flown here. My goodness, I did promise you a three hour interview, but I’m not going to hold you to that. But we’ve had a wonderful chat, Winnie. Just before I ask you where folks can find you online, is there anything that we didn’t cover that you wanted to mention before we wrap up?
Dr. Winnie Bowman (36:51):
Well, I just want everybody to come to Cape Town.
Natalie MacLean (36:53):
Dr. Winnie Bowman (36:54):
Come and visit us, come visit our winelands, come and visit our people. Come see all the diversity in Cape Town. You know that. I mean, Table Mountain alone has got more biodiversity than the whole of Europe. So we’ve got plants, we’ve got people, we’ve got cultures, we’ve got everything here. We’ve got the beach, we’ve got wine, you’ve got to come. And now that I know you’ve been here before, you’re going to have to come again, Natalie.
Natalie MacLean (37:20):
Absolutely, yes. We’ll have to have a glass of wine in person next time.
Dr. Winnie Bowman (37:25):
That’ll be lovely.
Natalie MacLean (37:26):
And where can we find you online, Winnie?
Dr. Winnie Bowman (37:28):
So on Twitter, I’m at Winbeebee, W I N B E E B E E. And the reason for that, of course, is that they’ve stuffed it up. The first time I was actually only Winbee. On my email is winbe W I N B E E at syrold which is S Y R O L D dot SA. I’m on Instagram as Winnie Bowman; Facebook, Winnie Bowman; LinkedIn, I think Winnie Bowman. Okay.
Natalie MacLean (37:59):
Awesome. Well, we’ll put all those links in the show notes too, in case folks want to reach out.
Dr. Winnie Bowman (38:05):
Anybody’s more than welcome to send me some questions or even remarks about South African wines that I can go and talk to those winemakers. Get them on track [laughter]
Natalie MacLean (38:18):
Dr. Winne Bowman
South Africa listens to me, Natalie. [laughter]
Yeah, that’s right. Don’t cross Dr. Bowman. South Africa is lucky to have you, Winnie. You’re such a passionate advocate for the wines in the country and yeah, a real icon. So thank you so much for spending all this time with me. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this conversation. I’ll say cheers for now, but I look forward to our next chat and wine.
Dr. Winnie Bowman (38:44):
Thanks, Natalie. And see you all in Cape Town.
Natalie MacLean (38:46):
Alright, cheers. Bye. Bye.
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoy my chat with Winnie. Here are my takeaways. Number one, I love listening to Winnie talk about new South African wine styles and regions to try, as well as the fact that the country gets so many sunshine hours for ripening and deepening the flavour of those wines. Two, I appreciated her background on the Pinotage grape and that it’s not the robust wine that many people assume it is and it can be quite elegant. And three, I found her story about a fellow judge not spitting delightful and also a cautionary tale for myself.
In the show notes, you’ll find the full transcript of my conversation with Winnie, links to her website, the video versions of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube live, and where you can order my book online now no matter where you live. That’s all in the show notes at NatalieMacLean/245. Email me if you have a sip, tip, question or if you’ve read the book at [email protected].
If you missed episode 83, go back and take a listen. I chat with Dr. Antonia Mantonakis about wines endorsed by celebrity athletes and which ones score on price and taste. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.
Dr. Antonia Mantonakis (40:10):
When you think about wine, what are some words that you can think of? And when you look at consumer’s responses, you could see that there’s a little bit of an overlap. When you think of certain sports like golf, it’s more prestigious or luxurious or a leisure activity, maybe tends to be enjoyed by certain types of people and so on. And these were the responses that we got about wine. Whereas a sport like soccer or hockey or wrestling – we tested a whole bunch of different categories of sport – and the degree of overlap or the degree of match was not really as strong. And so that led us to categorize different sports as being a high, medium, or low match to the product category of wine in order to do our study.
Natalie MacLean (41:10):
If you like this episode, please email or tell one friend about it this week, especially someone who’d be interested in the wines, tips and stories we shared. You won’t want to miss next week when I chat with Mark Lindsay on his podcast The Wonderful World of Wine.
Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps an elegant Pinotage. You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret. full-bodied bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at NatalieMacLean.com/subscribe. Meet me here next week. Cheers.